Dear Matt: I’ve worked at a large company with over 5,000 employees for over 10 years. Now, I’m considering a new job in a small company that has 25 employees. What are some differences between large and small companies that people need to consider?
Matt says: There are benefits and downsides to both, says Susan Thomas, Regional Vice President of Office Team (officeteam.com). “It’s about finding the right fit for where you’re currently at in your career and with your personal life,” says Thomas.
Larger companies are generally more established and provide more opportunities for growth and career advancement. There is much more movement within a larger company, giving workers the flexibility to change departments or locations. Professionals have the opportunity to take on more specialized roles and fully develop a specific expertise or job function.
The decisionmaking process is often made easier at smaller companies as there tends to be more autonomy and less “red tape.” At large companies, projects can take some time moving forward in the approval process. You can’t make quick decisions without going through the appropriate channels. At a small company the impact of your work can be seen almost immediately, allowing professionals to see how their work has directly contributed to the overall success of the business.
“Smaller companies are typically quicker to act and make decisions that will impact the business,” says Thomas.
Large companies have deeper pocket books, and are more readily able to invest in resources such as more advanced technology, professional training courses and state-of-the-art facilities, whereas smaller business often operate on a smaller overall budget and are limited in the resources they can provide.
Small businesses typically have less rules and more flexibility in what they can offer to their employees. Even if they can’t offer the full benefits package and higher salaries that larger companies will often provide, many small businesses will go out of their way to implement fun and creative employee perks, such as flextime/telecommuting, free lunches, game rooms, etc.
Small businesses are generally more fast-paced and require that their employees take on multiple roles. For example, an administrative assistant in a small company may also perform some HR duties and manage the organization’s social media presence. Working for a small business gives employees broader exposure to business operations and the various job functions that help make the company run.
“I’d recommend experiencing both large and small companies and seeing what fits you best,” says Thomas. “Both options present some wonderful opportunities.”
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